Ways to improve your environmental footprint

Ways to improve your environmental footprint

This week marks Environmental Awareness Week, which is an opportune time to reassess our environmental footprint and work out ways to tread more lightly on the earth. Here Amanda Taylor discusses some of the changes she has made recently in her household.

Australian consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about sustainability, with more than half (51%) of us now considering the environment when making purchasing decisions, according to Monash1.

From a personal perspective I was doing a reasonable job of living sustainably until I became a parent and everything changed overnight. Suddenly I was faced with piles of plastic toys, clothes discarded after a few months of wear, mounds of food thrown in the bin due to fussy eaters and more dirty nappies than you can shake a stick at.

I would love to tell you that I immediately addressed the environmental disaster that my family had become but the combination of parenting and a busy work schedule meant I kicked the can down the road for far too long.

In recent years, however, I have been making a conscious effort to reduce my family’s carbon footprint and cut down on waste. While it’s still a work in progress, I would like to share some of the changes that have worked for us.


The global food system, from production to consumption, accounts for one third of CO2 emissions, with food waste accounting for half of this. One way to combat these emissions is by composting, which converts organic waste into soil carbon, averting landfill methane emissions.

On discovering this, I took myself to Bunnings and purchased a worm farm. While it took my 1000 slimy pets a few days to settle in, within a week they were munching their way through potato peelings, forgotten fruit and the contents of my veggie crisper that were unfit for human consumption.

Worm farms are very low maintenance – just throw in the food and ensure your worms are watered once a week. I’m glad I made the purchase because not only are we recycling our food waste but we also have free fertiliser for the garden to boot.

Cut down on meat

Meat consumption is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, so even cutting back a little can make an impact.

If, like myself, you have a family of carnivores, this one may be easier said than done. However there are meals such as pizza, pasta and soup where the meat is not missed and there are also some great meatless protein alternatives available in supermarkets today.

Embrace solar power

While not an option for everyone, if you own your own home and don’t have them already, it is well worth looking into installing solar panels.

We recently moved to a home which already had solar panels installed. Not only is our home now producing its own clean energy but on receiving our first electricity bill we were pleased to discover we were making quarterly savings in the hundreds of dollars, which is very welcome news as the high cost of living continues to bite.

Reduce plastic consumption

The acceleration in the global use of plastics is polluting our planet and causing damage to our ecosystems and even human health.

Reducing plastic consumption does not have to be difficult – it just requires making more conscious purchasing decisions (and, note to self, remembering to take your own bags to the supermarket).

Some ways my family have cut our plastic consumption in recent years include brown bagging lunches, buying products that come with paper rather than plastic wrapping and avoiding synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon which are made from fossil fuels and often have a shorter lifespan.

Reuse and recycle

Social media might be frying children’s brains and ironically making us more antisocial but it does come with some positives.

In our neighbourhood, we use a community social media group to get rid of our unwanted goods, which are often snapped up the same day. From furniture to old bikes and even garden plants, we have reused and recycled it.

It feels good to know that unwanted items are getting a new lease of life instead of going to landfill and it sure beats waiting for the Council cleanup.

Some more useful information

While we won’t be winning any sustainability awards any time soon, what my family has discovered during this process is that making a few small changes can make a big difference, to our budget and health as well as the environment.

If you would like more ideas on changes you can make, visit the NSW Climate and Energy website.

Amanda Taylor

  1. Spotlight on Sustainability, Monash Business School 2022
  • Cradle-to-grave emissions from food loss and waste represent half of total greenhouse gas emissions from food systems, Nature Food, 2023


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